intention to evacuate, I requested that this brigade, having been the first to cross, might be the last to recross, the river. It was accordingly designated, with that commanded by Colonel Torbert, of New Jersey, to form the tete-de-pont, and cover the retreat. After the main body of the left wing had evacuated, these brigades having in the mean time been drawn up in two lines, the pickets, who had been left at their posts, were sent for. So silently had the retreat been effected, that in most cases they were found not aware of it.
At about 4 o'clock it was reported that the pickets, which had consisted of two regiments from each of the divisions of Brigadier-Generals Brooks, Newton, Sickles, Birney, and Doubleday, were in, and, after waiting a short time for any stragglers who might have lost their way, I gave the other for the front line so retreat; the second line immediately followed it. The Tenth Massachusetts was the last regiment to cross, followed by the bridge guard, under Captain Read, of the Second Rhode Island, and the bridges were at once taken up. Boats were kept on the other side of the river until after daybreak, to take off any stragglers, but, as reported to me, only a very small number appeared, so carefully and thoroughly had the retreat been conducted.
The behavior of the whole command, both officers and men, for spirit and willingness, could not be exceeded, and I do not specify particular instances, because good conduct was universal. Captain Read, of the Second Rhode Island, is entitled to the honor of having first crossed the bridge and engaged the skirmishers of the enemy.
I am under especial obligations, for their zeal and fidelity, to my staff, Captain G. W. Baldwin, assistant adjutant-general, who was severely injured; my aide, Lieutenant E. Washburn, jr., and Quartermaster J. Aborn, volunteer aide-de-camp.
I append a nominal list of casualties.*
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
CHAS. DEVENS, Jr.,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade.
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
Numbers 262. Report of Colonel Oliver Edwards, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Infantry.
[Extract covering operations of the command at Fredericksburg, Va., December, 1862.]
Thence, on December 2, 1862, we moved forward to White Oak Church, where we remained till December 11, when we marched to the Rappahannock, at Franklin's Crossing, below Fredericksburg, at which point, later in the day, we crossed to the south bank of the river, the Thirty-seventh being the advance regiment upon the lower of the two bridges there. Alone, our brigade covered the bridges all the next day, standing to arms through the entire night.
On the afternoon of the 13th (the day of the general engagement), we took position on the extreme left, and were under a very severe shell fire, with, however, but little loss. On the 14th, we were in reserve. On the 15th, again took position in front, and during the night covered
*Embodied in revised statement, p. 142.